PLEASE NOTE:  Publication for public comment is not, and shall not, be construed as a recommendation or approval by the Board of Governors of the materials published


Provision of Core Curriculum of 25 hours of Free Online MCLE in Legal Ethics


California law has, since before 2000, directed the State Bar to provide free and low-cost continuing legal education to lawyers. Section 6070(d) of the State Bar Act specifically states: “Special emphasis shall be placed upon the use of internet capabilities and computer technology in the development and provision of no-cost and low-cost programs and materials.” The State Bar Act and the California Rules of Court require lawyers to take at least 25 hours of MCLE every three years. Four of these hours must be in Legal Ethics. No more than 12.5 of a lawyer’s may be self-study.


Recognizing the importance of ensuring that lawyers acquire and maintain an understanding of the Rules of Professional Conduct, and the California Business and Professions Code, this proposal makes available a core curriculum of a maximum of 25 hours of participatory continuing legal education courses in Legal Ethics at no charge through a dedicated page on the State Bar website.

The State Bar currently offers 872 participatory MCLE courses online, including 105 hours of Legal Ethics content. Currently one course is available for free. In addition to these 872 participatory courses, the State Bar currently offers 72 self-study MCLE courses online, all of which are one hour long — including 4 hours of Legal Ethics content. The State Bar charges $15 per hour for these, and there are currently only 3 courses available for free.

The attachment to the agenda item presented to the Board Committee on Member Oversight includes the proposed curriculum. The proposed 25 course selections provide 36.25 hours of Legal Ethics content.


Based on historical revenue for the courses proposed to be offered, offering this curriculum of courses at no cost to the membership can be expected to reduce annual revenue by between $38,000 and $76,000. However, the total fiscal impact to the State Bar may be greater than just the loss of revenue from these courses to the extent that lawyers substitute these courses for other State Bar offerings.

  • Attachment 1 - Agenda Item III.D. Provision of Core Curriculum of 25 hours of Free Online MCLE in Legal Ethics
  • Attachment 2 - Agenda Item III.D., Attachment 1 - Analysis of Free Online MCLE in Ethics

Board Committee on Member Oversight May 13, 2011


June 16, 2011


Laila Bartlett
Office of Member Services
The State Bar of California
180 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 538-2232
(415) 538-2305 Fax